Fifty million people across the globe are living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. That number doesn’t include the many family members, friends, and caregivers who are also touched by this disease. Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and still has no cure. The Alzheimer Association is hard at work to find one, but they need your help!
“We can’t do what we do without the support of our local communities,” said Walk Manager Sara Spruth. One of the best ways to aide the Alzheimer Association is to join their annual walk. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is one of the most important fundraisers for the Association. It also acts as a means of raising awareness about the disease and the Association.
“It’s important to find a cure for this. It’s devastating to families. It really touches them and strikes a nerve with a lot of people. Having an annual event, like the walk, helps people come together, and we raise a lot of money every year. It’s just a fantastic thing,” said Lauren Skaggs, volunteer on the Walk Committee.
The money raised for the Association is used to fund important research for Alzheimer’s. As the aging population grows, the need to find a cure becomes even greater. It is estimated that in 30 years, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s will grow to 14 million. There is a dire need for enhanced medical research.
“Unfortunately, right now there is no prevention, treatment, or cure for Alzheimer's. We’re working on all of those,” said Spruth. “We’re able to seed and speed research so we can get the best and brightest minds all around the world working on this problem to solve Alzheimer's disease.”
As one of the largest fundraisers for research, the Association counts on The Walk to End Alzheimer’s each year.
“The Association is the third largest fundraiser for research in the world, just behind the US government and the Chinese government. The amounts of money the walks raise are desperately needed,” said Spruth.
The Association does more than fund research and is an excellent resource for families who are dealing with an Alzheimer's diagnosis.
“It’s not just about the research. It’s a free service. They’ll point you in the direction of elder law attorneys, neurologists, and different in-home care facilities. They’re really kind of a one-stop shop to help families that are struggling to cope with someone who’s been diagnosed,” said Amy Nowaczyk of Elder Law Attorney with O'Drobinak & Nowaczyk, P.C.
Nowaczyk, as well as many other companies and organizations, will be out at the walks as sponsors. It’s important for these organizations to be present at the walks as a resource and support. It is a chance to connect and meet those who may need their help.
“We're big on educating people. If I can talk to someone for five minutes and ease their worries, then that means the world to me,” said Nowaczyk.
Whether you walk alone or in a team, joining this event is a rewarding experience. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a chance for families, friends, co-workers, and others to join the good cause. It is also a great time to gather with others who have a personal connection with this disease to swap stories and support.
“The walk is a great day to get out. It’s a family event -- not just for caregiver or patients. It’s for families to get out, walk, and enjoy some nature,” said volunteer Kathleen Pena.
“I love the energy of the day. I love all the stories that people share about why they are there and why they’re walking,” said Nowaczyk.
Many people have been personally touched by this disease, or know someone who has. With so many community members being affected by this disease, why NOT walk?
This year there will be two walks in the Region. The Lake County walk will take place on Sep. 22 at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. The other walk will take place in Michigan City at Washington Park on Oct 5.
For more information on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and to see how you can get involved, visit www.alz.org/walk.